Empowerment is the new black

Ariel Yuqing Luo 31 January 2016

As an extremely female-oriented industry, it is unsurprising that fashion has become a key factor in the discussions about equal rights and the empowerment of women. In its simplest form, the fashion you find in your wardrobe has the power to make your day that little bit better, make you walk just a little taller and generally just makes you own yourself so completely you can’t help but feel empowered. The term ‘power dressing’ comes to mind. Whether it’s a perfect suit in a boardroom or adding a fuchsia lipstick to your make-up routine for an exam day, we all (however subconsciously) know exactly what to wear when we’re in need of feeling more powerful than usual.

On a bigger scale, some of the greatest inspirations for many an aspiring young woman can be found in the fashion sector. The powerhouse that is Anna Wintour, for example, encapsulates the essence of a woman empowered by fashion and yet remains an extremely successful, shrewd business woman and all-round fashion icon. As the Editor-in-Chief for American Vogue, Wintour has the final say on what appears in the biggest fashion magazine, and so she also has an incredibly important influence on who or what will be successful in the industry. Such is her presence in the fashion world that she even inspired the character of Miranda Priestly in the film The Devil Wears Prada. She is also an ambassador for many charities, including the American Foundation for AIDS Research. For all intents and purposes the high priestess of the Church of Fashion, she is living proof that what was once seen as a trivial, superficial and whimsical interest in fashion can empower you more than ever previously imagined.

An issue that is less widely discussed and may not seem as obvious, however, is how the clothes you wear can not only empower yourself, but other women as well. There is a tendency to turn a blind eye to where our clothes come from, but with the rise of initiatives such as Fashion ComPassion, Palestyle, and Indego Africa, it is becoming more and more evident that the fashion industry could truly become an effective way of empowering women in all parts of the world. Through selling carefully sourced clothing, partnering up with charitable organisations and big brands such as J Crew and TOMS that provide training for females to fairly enter the market, such organisations are trying to bring about change. All that is left now is for everyone else to start listening.